Google Research

Stormscapes: Simulating Cloud Dynamics in the Now

  • Torsten Hädrich
  • Milosz Makowski
  • Wojciech Pałubicki
  • Daniel Banuti
  • Sören Pirk
  • Dominik L. Michels
ACM Transactions on Graphics (Proceedings of SIGGRAPH Asia) (2020)


The complex interplay of a number of physical and meteorological phenomena makes simulating clouds a challenging and open research problem. We explore a physically accurate model for simulating clouds and the dynamics of their transitions. We propose novel formulations for computing buoyancy and air pressure that allow us to simulate the variations of atmospheric density and varying temperature gradients. Our simulation allows us to model various cloud types, such as Cumulus, Stratus, and Stratuscumulus, and their realistic formations caused by changes in the atmosphere. Moreover, we are able to simulate large-scale cloud super cells – clusters of Cumulonimbus formations – that are commonly present during thunderstorms. To enable the efficient exploration of these Stormscapes, we propose a lightweight set of high-level parameters that allow us to intuitively explore cloud formations and dynamics. Our method allows us to simulate cloud formations of up to 10x10km extents at interactive rates. We explore the capabilities of physically accurate and yet interactive cloud simulation by showing numerous examples and by coupling our model with atmosphere measurements of real-time weather services to simulate cloud formations in the now. Finally, we evaluate our model based on cloud fraction profiles, a common measure for comparing cloud types.

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